Growing a survival garden is near the top of the “to do” list for all preppers, but just throwing seeds in the ground to plant a little bit of everything is definitely not the way to go. Contrary to popular belief, growing grain crops and sugar can be accomplished even if you don’t have a lot of land and in almost any agricultural growing region.
Sure, I grow lots of fruits and veggies in several types of food cultivation plots, but those bountiful harvests will not sustain my tribe as well growing incredibly shelf-stable crops that can be used as ingredients in a plethora of calorie-packed and energy sustaining SHTF recipes.
Without further ado, let’s see the most important survival crops from a prepper’s perspective.
Sorghum contains the same nutrient count as more traditional grain crops and is often referred to as “broom corn” even though it is not a corn crops at all. It is a very drought resistant crop and is produces substantially high yields even in small spaces. Sorghum is easier to harvest and turn into flour than wheat berries, in my personal opinion.
Sorghum typically yields about 4,200 pounds (up to more than 5,500 pounds in some hotter climates) or up to 105 bushels, per acre. It has more than 11% protein count and above 6% fiber count. Sorghum is rich in all amino-acids except lysine.
You can get two valuable crops out of a single sorghum plant – grain and sugar. The stalks of the plant can be harvest for sugar and the tops of the plant for the grain.
There are actually five different types of sorghum commonly grown in the United States:
- Grain Sorghum – This is the easiest type of sorghum to cultivate and harvest.
- Sundangrass – This type has a short growing season, allowing you to harvest the grain in the middle of the summer to use in various recipes.
- Forage Sorghum – This is a course stemmed crop, and is primarily used for silage because of the lack of complete drying needed.
- Sorghum-Almum – This is a hardy annual that grows quickly and makes excellent fodder.
- Sorghum-Sundangrass – This is a hybrid crop that is grown primarily to garner hay, to make a quality pasture, and for silage. It has an intermediate yield, when compared to other types of sorghum.
Don’t let the name fool you, fellow preppers, buckwheat is not a sibling or even a cousin to wheat. It is an achene, a hard and small fruit that contains only a single seed. It is often referred as a cereal crop, but buckwheat is not really that, either. It does pack the same nutritional punch of cereal and shares a lot of the same culinary attributes.
Buckwheat ground into flour will boast about a 70% carb content and nearly a 13% protein content – about the same amount as traditional wheat. Buckwheat has a better amino acid content than most versions of wheat because of the low content of lysine. Buckwheat has approximately a 10% fiber count and a very low, about 3%, fat count.
You can use buckwheat flour in any cooking or baking recipe. Buckwheat pancakes are simply delicious, if you haven’t tried them, you are missing out… just don’t tell the kiddos they are a healthier alternative that what they are used to consuming. You can even make pasta, well a reasonable substitute for passed often referred to as “soba” from buckwheat flour.
Buckwheat and traditional wheat are grown in primarily the same a manner. It is a hardy crop that is not very picky about soil type, but the plants can fall over and get stuck in the soil during excessive rain. The plants, like most, do not tolerate frost well, so plan your growing season accordingly.
Buckwheat plants mature in approximately 8 to 10 weeks. Plant them after the last chance of frost, or even as late as July or early August, depending upon your climate, and they will be ready to harvest by the early fall.
Buckwheat yields approximately 1,000 pounds per acre.
Stevia is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, yet contains no calories – almost impossible to believe, right? Not putting an extra pounds on sounds great now, when times are good, but during a SHTF scenario, you will need calories for energy and strength.
Growing stevia will fulfill your doomsday disaster caloric needs, but it will provide a simple to grow and harvest sweet treat. Moral boosters will definitely be needed and fully embraced during a long-term disaster.
Stevia is a solid source of fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Stevia takes up so little space to grow that it can be cultivated in a large garden container or flower bed. It also has a host of medicinal properties and will be a superb addition to your plans to grow your own pharmacy to stockpile natural medicines before the SHTF.
Stevia Health Benefits:
- may help lower blood pressure
- may help prevent heart disease
- may help prevent and help treat, diabetes
- boast anti-inflammatory properties
- is gluten-free
- contains excellent antioxidant compounds, including: flavonoids, tannins, quercetin, triterpenes, caffeic acid, and kaempferol.
- is an ingredient in many natural homemade toothpastes and mouthwashes because it helps prevent both gingivitis and tooth decay.
You could live only on rice if you had too, no survival garden should be without a rice crop, no matter where you live. Rice can be grown inside in containers, outside in containers, or a patty dug in a low lying area, like near a creek or pond, to grow rice naturally outdoors.
Only two cups of rice a day will be enough food to keep you alive during a survival situation, hungry… but alive. Two cups might not sound like much food, but when the rice is cooked it expands – two cups of uncooked rice will fill up an entire plate.
If you have a family of five and grew only 1,830 pound of rice, you could each consume about one pound per day, and have the stockpile last for an entire year. Rice is very compact, you can pour approximately 30 pound of it in a 5 gallon stackable bucket for quick and easy storage.
Rice is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, Vitamin B compounds, phosphorous, and Zinc. Brown rice has a slightly higher content of the germ of rice and bran minerals.
If you grow rice, you can make rice water – and you want to be able to do this during a long-term disaster when you can’t call 911. Rice water is an electrolyte mixture than can be used to treat and correct diarrhea, vomiting, sunburn, and nausea. It can also be used as a base for soup, and even to as a makeshift laundry detergent or soap to clean your clothes and your hair.
Rice Water Recipe
- 1 cup of Rice
- cups of Water
Quick Rice Water
In a rush and without the ability to create a fire, you can simply rinse the wise 3 to 5 times in water, save the water and use.
Boiled Rice Water
1. Boil the water and add the rice
2. Stir the rice constantly until the water takes on a milk hue and becomes cloudy.
3. Drain the rice and consume or use the water – it can be used equally well either hot or cold.
4. The rice water can last up to five days when stored in an air-tight container in a cool place. Both feeding to your chickens and the dumping into the compost pile are great places to pour any used or excess rice water.
This hardy little grain is often sold as a cheap treat for your pet birds, but it has a high protein count and can be served to humans as well. Millet has a very short growing season, is both drought and high temperature tolerant, and can be grown in containers.
When we had Sun Conures, a small parrot, we dumped its droppings into the compost pile after cleaning the cage. Their millet droppings would grow into plants in just a few weeks.
Our compost pile hard rich soil, but millet is not picky and can grow just about anywhere – even in sidewalks crack… we found this out because the wind would always catch some of the bird cage mess during the walk out to the compost pile.
Although millet is not as easy to digest as wheat or sorghum, it’s not typically at all hard on your stomach. You can use millet grain in bread, beer, porridge, and fermentation recipes in place of more traditional ingredients.
Even if eating millet does not sound at all enticing, unless you are desperate for food, you should still grow it for its value as a livestock feed. Keeping your animals alive so they can provide you with meat, milk, and eggs, is obviously essential to your overall survival plan.
You can grow millet in gardening plots, and dry it after harvesting to store for livestock feed during the winter months or grow it in your pasture so you cows, goats, and sheep can graze on it year around… or both.
What do you think are the most important survival crops all preppers should be planting in their gardens?